The Batman will feature several iconic villains, including Paul Dano as Edward Nashton, aka the Riddler. It appears, at first, that we’re going to see the Batman/Riddler rivalry coalesce in this new movie, Silence of the Lambs-style, with Riddler urging Batman along on his quest to get to the bottom of this deadly conspiracy.
But is Riddler the masked killer seen in the trailer? Or is he an obstacle in Batman’s quest to bring the true enemy to justice? Let’s examine the evidence.
Why Riddler May Be the Killer
While Riddler isn’t necessarily the most sadistic member of Batman’s rogues gallery (his body count is nothing compared to the likes of Joker or Mr. Zsasz), he’s certainly not averse to murder if it’ll enhance his mental competitions with the Dark Knight. So it’s not a stretch to assume Nashton has donned a costume and mask of his own and begun leaving a trail of bodies across Gotham as telltale clues for his intellectual rival.
The victims themselves may be less important than the story they tell. Riddler seems to know quite a bit about the conspiracy linking the powerful families of Gotham, a conspiracy that may have led to the murder of the Waynes. It may be that Nashton has already deduced Batman’s secret identity (it’s happened in the comics) and knows why Bruce ventures out every night to beat criminals to a bloody pulp. He wants to share his knowledge of the true nature of Gotham, but true to form, he can only convey that information through a complicated scheme of riddles, puzzles and theatrical flair. Batman has to prove himself worthy of that information.
While we never get a great look at the masked killer in the trailer, it’s hard to ignore certain visual signs this is the Riddler. His suit and mask are green, if not nearly as flamboyant as most incarnations of the character. Then there are the green note cards left for Batman, which are clearly Nashton’s handiwork. The trailer even features what sounds like a voice-over of Dano’s character reading one of his riddles aloud. That voice-over is weirdly muffled and distorted, which would make sense if he’s wearing a full face mask.
Why Riddler Might Not Be the Killer
Despite all these signs pointing to Riddler, we can’t help but wonder if there’s more to this murder mystery than meets the eye. The Batman looks to be a far more detective-focused movie than any before it. This mystery has to be challenging and unpredictable enough to prove Batman worthy of the title “The World’s Greatest Detective,” and simply framing the story around Riddler on a murder spree may not cut it. The character clearly has a big part to play in Batman’s investigation, and no doubt he’s the one leaving those pesky riddles around Gotham, but he’s very likely just one piece of a much larger puzzle.
The Batman is clearly drawing inspiration from a number of different Batman comics, but The Long Halloween seems to loom especially large over the new film. That story was also framed around a complex murder mystery. Riddler and various other Bat-rogues had parts to play in that mystery, but ultimately the killer proved to be someone from a far different background. We have to wonder if The Batman is following that example. Maybe Peter Sarsgaard’s character, District Attorney Gil Colson, will instead turn out to be the killer. Or maybe Jayme Lawson’s mayoral candidate Bella Real. Neither character is based on someone from the comics, which leads us to believe Reeves has something tricky up his sleeve.
With all the emphasis on Gotham’s dark, secret history, we also have to wonder if the movie will delve into the existence of secret society’s like the Court of Owls. The killer’s mask is also somewhat reminiscent of the Talon assassins employed by the Court.
In short, with so many familiar Batman villains appearing in this movie, we don’t necessarily see any one character like Riddler or Penguin being elevated above the rest. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest Riddler is the serial killer Batman is hunting, but there’s surely more to this mystery than the trailer lets on.
What do you think? Vote in our poll and let us know whether you think Riddler is the masked killer:
In other big DC FanDome news, the Black Adam movie will introduce the JSA, Justice Leaguye: The Snyder Cut has been confirmed as a four-part limited series and Ezra Miller’s sleek new Flash costume has been revealed.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.